John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School, Philadelphia’s oldest archdiocesan high school for girls, is by no means a place that is seething with animosities. But of course no one is perfect, and a little introspection on the issue of relationships never hurts.
That’s why this year Hallahan adopted as its Catholic Schools Week theme, “No Place for Hate.”
It’s actually a program sponsored nationally by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) with the goals of:
- Building inclusive and safe communities in which respect is the goal and students can thrive;
- Empowering students, faculty, administration and family members to take a stand against hate and bullying by incorporating new and existing programs under one powerful message;
- Engaging schools and communities in at least three anti-bias activities per year which ADL helps to develop;
- Sending a clear and unified message that all students have a place to belong.
It was supposed to culminate on Jan. 29 as “No Place to Hate Day” with a full round of activities involving the entire school community.
Unfortunately the snow alert put a crimp in everything. Even though the forecasters were dead wrong (we won’t hate them for that) as far as Philly snow fall was concerned, a day and a half was lost so now “No Place for Hate Day” will happen on Thursday, Feb. 5.
But it is really not a one-day event anyway. It started with the school’s observation of Martin Luther King Day, with emphasis on the Golden Rule and Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” according to Kristen Sheridan, Hallahan’s assistant principal. There followed a day when uplifting music was played between classes.
Last week during Catholic Schools Week there were small colored baskets on top of each locker and the students were encouraged to ponder the theme and write their thoughts on No Place for Hate.
On Thursday there will be no regular classes. Art students will have designed posters, other students will have designed a graphic novel around the theme and dance students will also offer a special program.
There will be a showing of part of the film, “The Wizard of Oz.” The tin man has no heart, the scarecrow has no brains, the lion has no courage, yet in the end there is a place where they can make these things happen and a place where they can call home.
The students will break out into small group discussions about prejudice or hate. With markers they will decorate T-shirts and there will be a large basket where everyone can throw in the notes they have made up over the week, symbolically throwing away their hatred.
In the end, a representative or representatives of the ADL will present a citation formally declaring John W. Hallahan is a No Place for Hate School.